‘To terrify and Harmonize’: on The Need of Historicizing The Emergence of The ‘Fatal Discipline’ in Pakistan

  • Shahzeb Khan Department of English Language and Literatureat University of the Punjab, Pakistan
  • Amra Raza Department of English Language and Literatureat University of the Punjab, Pakistan
Keywords: English Literature, Pakistan, Historicization, Academic Disciplines, Decoloniality


The genesis of English as a university discipline has been widely discussed in various international contexts. However, in Pakistan, no comprehensive, critical study has come to the fore until now. The socio-political significance of university disciplines cannot be studied without relevant historicizations. Similarly, this lack of historical narratives of academic disciplines causes a lack of critical engagement with the process of disciplinary formation and evolution and thus, so far, the academic disciplines in Pakistan seem devoid of self-critique—a process which is of vital importance to the well-being of postcolonial societies. The present paper highlights English nationalistic fervour as a factor which played its part in the establishment of the discipline in England and identifies some of the ‘deeper contexts’ (Viswanathan, Uncommon Genealogies, 2000) of the discipline’s institutionalization through available histories of the discipline. The paper argues that the discipline of English literature in Pakistan, which is popularly conceived to be aesthetically autonomous, innocuous, and apolitical, has various historico-political dimensions that must be taken into account if the discipline has to play a humanely progressive and critically conducive role in the local context.